The Al-Qaida Network
What do Osama bin Laden, Muhammad Atef, terrorism, and Islamic militants all have in common? They are all associated with Al-Qaida (the Base). What is Al-Qaida (the Base)? Al-Qaida is a multi-national support group which funds and orchestrates the activities of Islamic militants worldwide. It grew out of the Afghan war against the Soviets, and its core members consist of afghan war veterans from all over the Muslim world. Al-Qaida was established around 1988 by the Saudi militant Osama bin Laden. Based in Afghanistan, bin Laden uses an extensive international network to maintain a loose connection between Muslim extremists in diverse countries. Working through high-tech means, such as faxes, satellite telephones, and the internet, he is in touch with an unknown number of followers all over the Arab world, as well as Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada. “Al-Qaida supports Muslim fighters in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Kosovo. It also trains members of terrorists organizations from such diverse countries as the Philippines, Algeria, and Eritrea.” (World Islamic Front,1).
The organization’s primary goal is to overthrow what it sees as the corrupt and heretical governments of Muslim states, and their replacement with the rule of Sharia (Islamic law). Al-Qaida is intensely anti-Western, and views the United States in particular as the primary enemy of Islam. Bin Laden has issued three “fatwahs” or religious rulings calling upon Muslims to take up arms against the United States. Al-Qaida continues to attempt to radicalize existing Islamic groups and create Islamic groups where they do not exist. They advocate destruction to the United States, which is seen as the chief obstacle to reform in Muslim societies.
Osama bin laden entered on his current path of holy war in 1979, the year Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan. He transferred his business to Afghanistan--including several hundred loyal workmen and heavy construction tools--and set out to liberate the land from the infidel invader. Recognizing at once that the Afghans were lacking both infrastructure and manpower to fight a protracted conflict, he set about solving both problems at once. The first step was to set up an organized program of conscription. Together with Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood leader Abdellah Azzam, he organized a recruiting office--Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK-Services Office). MAK advertised all over the Arab world for young Muslims to come fight in Afghanistan and set up branch recruiting offices all over the world, including in the U.S. and Europe. Bin Laden paid for the transportation of the new recruits to Afghanistan, and set up facilities to train them. The Afghan government donated land and resources, while bin Laden brought in experts from all over the world on querilla warfare, sabotage, and covert operations. Within a little over a year he had thousands of volunteers in...